Headlight

the light of your
saving otherness
silvers the tin birds
above the hand-painted pond

like the headlight
on the model train
you left behind
for bigger
and better things

Monk on the Ridge

“At midnight we raise their wine to tomorrow” — W. S. Merwin

a caftan shirt made of powder
smells of cinders and bergamot

leaving the city tunnel at noon

the ridge goes where I go
of old wool and garage blossoms
make me a pallet

on older snow the sun passes away

monarch butterflies
drift upwards
bubbles in older wine

monks walk like credit cards
making betrayal a thing of calendars

in the abandoned hours
after solstice

Wildfire Near Redding, California

the front walks
in a red jersey
over the hills
marking its territory
hiding its feet
like Frida Kahlo

the veil of place hardens
where water becomes
accountable down
around the eyes

like a concerto
it takes a while
to feel the lyric weight
and wrench of it

then it starts to roar
piercing the skin
like a blown Nascar engine
and spitting liquid glass
from the corner of its eyes
like a Texas Horned Lizard

Oregon Desert

sun like lava
dragonflies
deer
ponderosa pines
smell like cinnamon

in the lodge
an exhibit
of flint arrowheads
a photo of a Paiute fire pit
a bone fish hook
like a pearly
fingernail

someone said
the water slide
should go here

Tilman Riemenschneider, 1460-1531

a fifteenth century
German woodcarver
used massive clear grained
limewood blocks that carved
like chilled butter held an
eyebrow arc a pointed finger a
waterfall of tresses an erotic
gaze for centuries through fiery
pitch covered boulders hurled by
catapults smashing church walls
and stained glass windows

people put the carvings
in caves and cellars
wrapped in wet burlap
carried them under
sheets of fire these figures
of townspeople posed as saints
apostles and martyrs

once I caught a glimpse
in a moment a decade
a second a season
an unruly honor
among so many
I missed

A Free Press

fast twitch words
like chalk
juniper berries
the jewelry
of lies
scattered in
bright bunches
emachinations
in the smoke trees

downstream
four long oars
endlessly blade
the uncut water
more and more
resolving them
catch and pull
and feathering
where it gets steep
into a cargo net
of stuttering pauses

The Mirror of the Late War

My brother Don Brandis is a fine poet. Here is one of his that was recently published on Clementine Unbound. I find it to be a meditation on the consequences of being unconscious in our own actions, individually and as nations. It resolves into a wonderfully spooky images of nature as a mirror of our intoxication with our own unawareness and its outcomes.

The Mirror of the Late War

We were so, so, so . . .
ordinary, our every enterprise
would soon miscarry
not that failure was intended
but our intent was only clear
when it was flagrantly upended,
even to us. No, especially
we’d sort the wreckage
and believe it necessary.
When the moon was full
the fields were silver with its sheen
as if they were not ground but sea
inhabited by churning shoals of fish
drawn out like moths in moon-madness
mocking us for sane and sober sloths
who were by seeming accident both.

Don Brandis is a retired healthcare worker living a happily married hermit’s life in a small town not far enough from Seattle, reading and writing poems, tending fruit trees, and meditating. He writes because good poems are invitations to engage intrinsic values in a culture that only values tools. He has published some poems with Melancholy Hyperbole, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Hamilton Stone Review, and elsewhere.